Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Josie Journals


Guess what! I have a journal and I am writing in it.

I wrote without anyone helping me spell. Meema said some of the words weren't just right, but they were good enough that she could tell what I meant. I think that should be good enough. 

Meema said that the more I read on my own, the easier the right spelling would be. We'll see.

This is a Very Good library book that Meema and I read together. It is about a little girl who finds out she can do something that some kids say she can't. It is a great story with good pictures. 

And this is a picture I did of a rainbow winged Alicorn. (The paper got a little crumpled.)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Three Pears


This is just to say:
I have laid delicate slices of those fragrant pears
On tender green leaves of lettuce and arugula,
Sent a drift of gorgonzola over their melting tenderness,
Anointed the union with a drizzle of virgin olive oil
And a sprinkle of white balsamic vinegar.
A riot of toasted pecans finishes the salad.

So cool, so sweet, so crunchy
That it is consumed before I remember
To take a picture

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Josie at Work


This was Josie's own idea. She asked me a bunch of questions about what I liked and then wrote down the answers. Her spelling is a tad idiosyncratic, and she reverses some letters now and then.


Favorite food-Bread; favorite animal-dogs; favorite thing to do-reading; favorite place-farm; favorite person-Josie; favorite plant-lavender; favorite place to spend time-home; favorite drink-water; favorite season-spring; favorite insect-spiders; favorite color-green; favorite shape-spiral; favorite piece of furniture-chair.

I'm wondering if this was inspired by her teacher or someone encouraging children to reach out to their elderly relatives. 

I love how she spelled spider.


Speaking of idiosyncratic, check out these trees,
And note the division between the sky and the sun.

This sky/sun thing is a new trend in her art.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

A Trip to Russka


This has been on our shelf, next to LONDON and SARUM, both of which I'd read and enjoyed, being an Anglophile of long standing. But RUSSKA. . .well, having struggled in the past through Russian novels that required me to keep a running list of the various names, nicknames, and patronymics, somehow, I just continued to ignore this doorstopper (almost a thousand pages) of a book.

Until I didn't. And I really enjoyed it and learned so much about Russian history, from the earliest beginnings to the era of Stalin and a bit beyond. My favorite way to learn history.

Rutherfurd traces two families-one landowners, the other serfs--down through the years, (complete with a handy chart of family tree) showing the ups and downs of each while giving an overview of Russian politics, sociology, religion, and economics. This vast, sprawling country couldn't be contained in a smaller book.

I took it fairly slow and interspersed it with a bit of lighter reading, actually, re-reading--Sharyn McCrumb's earlier Elizabeth MacPherson novels. At the same time, I was toggling between two audiobooks--SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (nowhere near as good as PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, though it has its moments) and a continuing re-listen to O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin wonderful series, read by the perfect reader, Parick Tull.

What a delight to leap from a Russian village on the edge of the steppes to a tourist's eye view of modern Scotland to prim and proper Regency England to battles at sea and intrigue in Malta during the Napoleonic era and back to aristocratic life in old St Petersburg! 

Books are such a great way to travel.

Friday, November 24, 2023

WIth a Thankful Sigh of Relief


It was a grand day from the starters to the desserts, including a rather special cake made by Josie, Grandma Nancy serving a sous chef.  

Alas, I didn't take any pictures of the feast. But it was delicious and memorable, with contributions from all.


 I've been getting ready since Monday. In fact, I was so beforehand that, aside from putting the turkey in the oven early in the morning, I didn't have much to do, foodwise, till around 11:30. 

 John and Justin, meanwhile, were in a whirlwind of vacuuming and moving furniture so we could have a big table in the middle of the living room.                                                      

                                   It was a lovely day and when it was over, John and Justin did dishes and returned the furniture to where it belonged.

Looking at the restored living room where 11 of us had so recently been gathered around a table covered with Thanksgiving fare and bottles of bubbly, John said that the day almost could have been a dream.

And so it was.

Now, in response to Gwen's request for the Huguenot Torte recipe, half of which was shown in my post about the pumpkin pie, here's the full thing. I have to say I've never made it, but it does sound good.   

Maybe in a month or so I'll be hungry again.                                                  



Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Game On!


Yesterday I braved the grocery store for more Thanksgiving provisions and as I was pushing the buggy out to my car, a cheerful woman with her own buggy loaded ccalled out, "Well, we got one hard part done!"

"Yep, " I replied, "now for the cooking."                                                       


Her car was next to mine and after she returned her buggy to the corral, she came over and just started handing me the bags I was loading into my car. "Makes it a little easier with someone handing them to you," she said. And it did,


When we were done, I thanked her profusely and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving.

"Happy Thanksgiving to you too," she said, "And Merry Christmas. I'm not politically correct."

"Well, Merry Christmas to you!" I replied. "And a Happy Hannukah, and Kawanza, and everything else! "

I kinda felt like I'd been visited by the Spirit of Thanksgiving.




Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thinking of Duns Scotus


2 something am. Jenny jumps on the bed, waking me up. She doesn't seem to want to go out, and she snuggles down next to me. As I lie there waiting to go back to sleep, the name Duns Scotus floats into the magpie horde of trivia that passes for my mind. 

Some sort of theologian, I seem to remember. And presumably from Scotland. I make a mental note to Google the name in the morning.

And then I think of dunce cap--that conical badge of shame used in schools long ago for under-achieving students. 

Could there be a connection, I wonder?

And why am I thinking these random and esoteric thoughts at dark-thirty? 

The next morning, I do indeed Google Duns Scotus (b.1265 or 1266) and learn that he, and later his followers. wore those pointy hats in the belief that the shape would funnel knowledge from the outside world into the brain. Whether he was inspired by the headgear of wizards or vice versa isn't clear. But before the Rennaissance, the 'duns cap' was the sign of a deep thinker.

Come the Rennaissance and newer ways of thinking and the duns cap was transmogrified into the mark of one far behind the times--a dummy, a dunce.

It's possible I once knew the basic outlines of this correlation but one of the nice things about lost memories is that one has the pleasure of new discovery all over again.

There's more about John Duns Scotus and the use of the dunce cap HERE

Monday, November 20, 2023

One More Sunrise ( by a Real Photographer)


Our friend Cory paid us a brief visit and grabbed this gorgeous sunrise shot. He's a professional photographer and a very old friend of the family--twenty-some years, I think..

When Justin went to the NC School of Science and Math for is junior and senior year of high school, Cory was a year ahead of him. They became fast friends (despite Cory's habit of eating the centers out of the pans of brownies I sent Justin.)

At Chapel Hill, they were roommates. Once, when Justin was having trouble with their shared printer and was going to be late for the class in which the paper stranded in the printer was due, Cory told him to go on and he'd fix the printer. 

"Just sit by the window," he told Justin.

In class, the roll was called, consuming some precious time, and then the instructor began to walk up and down the rows of desks, picking up the assignments. As he neared Justin, Justin leaned back, stuck his arm out the window, and received his paper, hot off the printer.

Now that's a friend!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Eastern Sky at Eventide




Saturday, November 18, 2023

In Praise of Pomegranates


I really love pomegranates. Their color is my favorite shade of red.                                                               

I love the little crown they wear, containing the remnants of their once spectacular flower. We planted a pomegranate when we lived in Florida and were fortunate enough to see it bloom--a blowsy pinky-coral blossom. It was hard saying goodbye to that little tree.                                                    

Some scholars have suggested that the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit in the story about the Garden of Eden. But the idea of biting into one is daunting--one would get all that white stuff between one's teeth. Not to mention the mess the juice would make.

No, one dissects the pomegranate slowly, like a meditation, cherishing each jewel-like seed. These are headed for a salad of spinach, Bosc pears, toasted pecans, and gorgonzola.

Persephone, when she was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the Underworld, refused all food until. tempted by one of the little seeds, swallowed it, dooming herself to spend half the year with her captor.

They are tempting.                                                 


Friday, November 17, 2023


 I found the lost post! Not Blogger's fault but mine. I'd carelessly posted it to last Friday. So here it is.


Cleaning out a drawer of seldom used kitchen implements, I found a little trove of nostalgia--my maternal grandmother's biscuit cutters, hard-boiled egg slicer, green bean Frencher (I've actually used all of these now and then. Does anyone 'French" green beans anymore?)

Also, a serving spoon that I suspect may have belonged to my great-grandmother--which is why I've not been able to throw it out.

And two spatulas--both of which I remember her using.

It made me think of a meme that was going around--Ways to tell you're old: You have a favorite spatula. 

And I do. We have several but there's one, with a wooden handle partly burned off that just fits my hand and slides under pancakes et al effortlessly. 

It's the spatula to which Josie was referring, a few years back, when I whined to her that she wouldn't let me play with any of her stuff. 

"You can play with your spatula, Meema," she retorted.

I suspect my grandmother felt that way about this old beauty.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. In the pantry hangs a hemmed piece of feed sack material, just like it used to hang in my grandmother's pantry. It's material that her sister Mabel sent her from Alabama back in the Forties and it's right handy for wiping your hands. Next to it hangs a dainty little rick-rack trimmed apron that belonged to one of my neighbors.

Below are a pair of poultry shears and a god-knows-what that belonged to John's paternal grandfather. (There is also a rather naughty nutcracker that was his, but I don't want to get scolded bu Facebook for posting it.

So many memories would be overwhelming if not for the slow pace of this project. I'm constantly aware that these objects that are so imbued with memory for me won't have the same hold on others. So they can toss them--but not me.


Blogger Ate My Post

 It wasn't especially important. But I'd spent a bit of time on it and (I thought) scheduled it to post at 2 am this morning. 

Not there. Not even a draft.

Try again for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Beauty of Bare Trees




Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Like the Cat Ate the Grindstone


 Little by little, that is. I'm slowly making my way through the kitchen, taking stuff out of cabinets, making decisions, washing, recycling, tossing.

I've been at it every day, with lots of sit-down breaks. I've discovered where all the canning rings and lids go to rust. And more spices than a bazaar might have. Sake cups and Chinese soup spoons? Got 'em. Thermometer left from when I made cheese--back when we had a milk cow, and I could play with five gallons of milk at a time.


 A sippy cup. The Peter Rabbit plate that Ethan and Justin and Josie all used . . .I'm being strong and giving it to a thrift store . . .maybe.                                           

The herb and spices cabinet was a real pain to deal with.  But I threw out some that were well past their expiration date and got a great reminder of some seasonings I haven't used recently--tandoori masala, piri piri, harissa, berbere, za'atar, muchi curry powder . . .

But, oh the pleasure when things are clean and organized!

One more upper shelf to go! 

I'm writing this while I take a back break. I kinda hesitated to bore you with more of my cleaning saga, but the thing that keeps track of visitors to my posts told me that my post about Marie Kondo and Death Cleaning was incredibly popular--even more than Josie. (I won't tell her that.)

Oddly enough, this cleaning's become a bit addictive. Doing it in small, manageable bursts is the key.  Tomorrow it's onward to the lower cabinets and pots and pans. Maybe even under the sink where I suspect a swamp creature lurks.